3 Tips for Identifying the Right IT Service Desk Improvements
by Stephen Mann, on 10-Jun-2019 08:00:00
Most modern IT service desk and help desk aspire to improve across all three of “better, faster, cheaper.” But what does your service desk need to do to jump from good to great?
There are, of course, many opportunities to improve upon the IT service desk status quo – it’s therefore critical to understand which improvement opportunities will deliver the greatest return on your time and cost investments.
There are also a number of best practices which can be adopted, but unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It is still essential to prioritize your efforts to make the maximum positive impact as early as possible.
So Many Improvement Opportunities, So Little Time
There’s always going to be a wealth of available opportunities to improve your IT service desk – especially when you consider the number of different perspectives you can take to identify and agree on improvements. For example:
- Focusing on business needs versus employee needs (and appreciating the mutual wins)
- Addressing pain points versus realizing opportunities
- Tackling people, process, or technology issues (or combinations across all three)
- Improving something that’s already in place versus adding something new
- Improving on a weakness or improving on an existing strength
- Working with an existing ITSM best practice versus leveraging a different one
This list is in no way exhaustive, it’s simply intended to convey the variety of perspectives that can be taken when looking at your IT service desk challenges and improvement opportunities.
Tip #1 . Understand the Common IT Service Desk Challenges and Opportunities
There are a variety of commonly felt challenges and available opportunities for service desks to improve. For instance:
- Working with higher IT support volumes and potentially budget cuts – the pressure of more IT services, and perhaps people, to support and the need to “do more with less”
- Keeping up with changing business needs and technology landscapes – the business wants quicker change and innovation, plus there’s more technology to support
- Meeting increasing employee expectations for service and support – because employees are bringing their personal experiences into the workplace
- Getting the key ITSM capabilities right – there are a number of commonly adopted ITSM capabilities that IT service desks continue to struggle with
- Service desk tool issues – the current tool hinders more than it helps, plus it probably never delivered on its promises and the expected return on investment (ROI)
- Staff recruitment and retention issues – whether this is due to budgetary limitations or the availability of suitably skilled staff to fill vacancies
- Finding the time for improvement – staff can often be too busy “fighting fires” to spend time trying to prevent them in the first place
- Struggling to quantify what “value” is – there’s a need for IT service desks to be more focused on what’s important to the organization and the key stakeholders within it
Of course, there are more. But hopefully, this list is enough to show the wealth of improvement opportunities available to your IT service desk and the difficulty it brings to prioritization.
Tip #2. Address What’s Most Important for Your Organization
In the context of the above-listed points, and others, there are likely to be many improvement opportunities available. Some will be quick wins, while others will take considerable time and effort. Some will be costly, while others will not make a dent in your limited budgets.
Budget, time and resources are key factors in deciding which improvement opportunities to tackle first. But, importantly, it’s the understanding of what’s most important for your organization. There’s a need to ensure that whatever you plan to improve, it is truly aligned with what’s needed at a business level, rather than simply something that will improve IT operations and outcomes.
Tip #3. Avoid Potential Improvement Conflicts
This might be an odd situation to consider because surely every positive change in IT is a positive change for the organization as a whole? Sadly, it’s not. A simple example is the reduction in ticket handling costs by taking measures to shorten the average call handling time. It might save IT a dollar per ticket, but what if the quality of service is impacted negatively? The business-level cost of the affected employees not being able to work could easily be ten times the savings. The improvement might meet the need for faster,” but it doesn’t necessarily meet the need for better.
Some other potential conflicts that you’ll need to be aware of when prioritizing your improvement activity are:
- Only improving what’s already performing well. It might be easier to do, but it’s not likely to deliver as much benefit as tackling a problem boldly with something new. An example of this is continuing to improve mature incident management capabilities while completely ignoring the opportunities to improve problem management.
- Being aware that improving a weakness might also weaken a strength. The above example can also be viewed as this – where reducing what’s seen as an overly-expensive ticket-handling cost potentially reduces customer satisfaction and/or increases the level of employee lost productivity.
- Being mindful that a balance is needed across improvements. Avoid focusing on one area at the expense of others.
Here it’s likely that the Pareto Principle applies and the first 80% of benefits are received from the first 20% of improvement activity.
The most important factor to consider across all of these is whether your improvements will make the greatest difference in terms of being “better, faster, cheaper” from a business perspective.